Monday, January 25, 2016

Oh, How I Love the Library, Part Two of Infinity: Book Titles and Covers Edition

Something else fun about the library: Finding books with funny or odd titles or books with beautiful or interesting covers.

Titles:

'Peppy Monologues', because a monologue should be peppy! Why waste time on a dreary, lackluster monologue.

"Merry Old Mobiles..." I have never been a car enthusiast, but maybe I could be a 'merry old mobile' enthusiast.

"Little Mammals of the Pacific Northwest" I am definitely a little mammal of the pacific northwest enthusiast. All mammals are amazing, but the little ones are some of the most wonderful.


 "All About Brushes." Sometimes I am charmed by the specificity of a book. An entire book about brushes! Somewhere out there in history, a brush lover eagerly sat down to his writing table and penned a book about brushes.


"Foolish Figleaves?" This one tickles my fancy because it's funny name. I think someone would name their band Foolish Figleaves, the question mark being optional. 



Covers:


'Mermaids, The Myths Legends and Lore.' The script and illustrations around the title are both really pretty. I also like that the cover looks a bit beaten and worn around the edges.'



'Folding Paper Masks.' I love the lady's wide eyed expression and her hair cut.


'Moon Lore.' I love this illustration. It is so pretty. The title reminds me of a short story I listened to on the podcast/radio show 'Radio Lab.' The short story is called 'The Distance of the Moon' and it is by Italo Calvino. I recommend giving this episode a listen! It is Radio Lab: Distance of the Moon.


 'Russian Criminal Tattoo.' An entire encyclopedia (and only the first volume) dedicated to such a specific type of tattoo. Neat!




Sunday, January 24, 2016

Oh, How I Love the Library, Part One of Infinity: The Dance Edition!

 Library's are some of my all time favorite places in all the world. They provide endless hours of interesting entertainment. Here is something I recommend. Go to your local library, go to the section on books about dance, and peruse the pictures. It is hard not to smile or be wowed by the joy and artistry of dance!




The super old pictures are my favorites. I imagine this book is from the twenties and that this lady lived out in the country where she made-up quirky dance moves. All of her dances told stories (like this one about an old man). Then one day, two cultural anthropologists studying small towns in the mountain villages of America came across her. They were wowed by her novelty and her small town, aw-shucks charm. The two anthropologists abandoned all notions of scholarly pursuits. Money signs glowed in their eyes, they thought they found a star! They took the country dancer to the big city where they dressed her up as a sailor and made her the star of her own show. For six months straight, she sold out theaters to sophisticated city dwellers, looking to reconnect to their more innocent, less jaded roots. But the country dancer was a passing fad and soon faded into obscurity. Her passing fame did not bother the country dancer. She had never wanted to be a star. Every time she was on that stage, she missed the birds, the trees and her country friends, who use to play the best music on their old guitars and banjos for her to dance along to. The country dancer felt free when she could finally leave and go back to the life she had always had. Now, the only thing that remains of her stardom is one picture of her preforming one of her dances, 'The Old Man.' At least, this is my guess about the back story of this picture and dance. But of course, it could be something entirely different!


This disco lady is so glamorous. I like how her hair is glowing in the light and her skirt looks to be caught in mid flutter in a gust of wind. As a person who really likes to dance but is quite a clumsy dancer, I think confidence in your dance moves goes a long way. This 'disco dyonosoaring' lady is full of confidence!


These dance moves definitely look a little goofy, but that is another thing wonderful about dance. Dancing gives you permission to be goofy. You can tell by the dancer's smile that they are delighted. I will say that the guy dancing in the shower on the left seems like he is engaging in an ill-advised activity. It is good to find something you love so much that you do not want to stop, but let's leave the dancing to dry surfaces. 


Full confession, I checked out this book when I first moved to Seattle because I wanted to learn the Charleston. I love the twenties and their is something about the Charleston. It is a cute and peppy dance! I never learned the whole dance, but sometimes I cycle in my modified versions of Charleston moves into my free-style, not-at-all-graceful-or-coordinated, dancing for fun.



I love the yellowed pages and the graceful dancers.


These dancers are using their flowy outfits as part of their dance. The layers of swaying cloth add to the grace of their postures. Another thing I love, when old, old library books have crumbling, yellowed pieces of tape, repairing a tear from a long time ago.


  My favorite part of my 'dance-book-perusal' was when I found a beautiful note:


I blacked out the person's email. He could have easily uploaded his request on the internet, but instead he chose to put this note in an old dance book at the library. There is something very romantic and idealistic about it. I hope someone who wanted to learn swing dancing found it and contacted him. This note was written a year ago this month. By now, he and his dancing companion could have fallen in love over a shared joy of dance and gotten married. Or maybe he didn't fall in love but found the perfect dance partner. Either way, a note left in a library book is such a sweet and lonely way to reach out to the world. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Cheerful Forests, Haunted Forests

Here are photos I took of the forest several months ago. I went on a beautiful hike. The only bad thing was that my camera ran out of batteries. During this hike, I saw more forest snails than I have ever seen before. Usually it feels like great luck to see one forest snail. I must have seen fifty during this hike! The only proof I have is the one picture I took of a snail right before my batteries died. Forest snails are especially beautiful. They have more of a twirl to their shell than garden snails. They look more whimsical, like the type of snails that a forest sprite would ride in a story book.







Forests are either cheerful places brimming with life, calm places full of peace, or creepy places full of terrible mysteries. All the forests I have been to have either been cheerful or calm, but I'd love to visit a spooky forest.

I learned about a spooky forest in Transylvania called Hoia Baicu forest. All sorts of strange and amazing things happen in this forest. A wide variety of strange activities happen in this forest: UFO sightings, ghosts, missing time, sudden illness, black fog and floating faces.

One story I read was about a little girl who wandered into the woods. Probably she was chasing a butterfly, picking wildflowers or pretending she was a great world explorer. Caught up in her little kid world, she went too far into the treacherous woods. Her family must have been distraught over their missing child. They probably thought they would never see their little girl again. But then, five years later, the girl came wandering out of the woods. She was wearing the exact outfit she had been wearing five years prior (either she didn't grow very much or the outfit must have been snug.). The outfit looked in pristine condition, no dirt smudges or signs of wear an outfit would surely experience after being worn for five years. When asked to recount what happened during the five years she was missing, the little girl remembered nothing.

The forest was named after a sheep herder. He lived a long time ago and spent his time with his sheep, walking from one place to the next. Maybe all his sheep had names and he talked to them while they walked together. Maybe he remained silent and listened to the sound of his sheep's gentle baa's and the jingle of the large bells around their necks. Certainly he must have cared about all his sheep. If you are responsible over another's life, it is difficult not to form a bond. One day, the shepherd wandered into the forest with his two-hundred sheep. That evening, he never returned home. He was not greeted by a wife and a hot bowl of soup. He did not get rest his weary feet by sitting down in his favorite chair while his children recounted stories from their own day. He disappeared with his baaing, jingling sheep never to bee seen or heard from again.

Sometimes people enter the forest and feel intense anxiety. They develop strange rashes that blotch their skin. Their heads feel tight and full of intense pounding. They don't feel comfortable. They just want to leave.

Sometimes they hear disembodied voices or see glowing orbs.

Probably, once someone walked into the forest and saw nothing at all except trees. Instead of anxiety they felt disappointment. The stories weren't true, at least not for them, at least not yet. But they probably vowed that there would be a ghost or a UFO or an uneasy feeling somewhere out there in this world full of strange occurrences. Maybe, after their failed haunted forest trip, they visited a haunted house. This time, they saw the most amazing ghost float from the rafters. A glowing blue haze of ghostly light appearing just for them.

(Sources:

Baidya, Sankalan. "20 Interesting Mysterious Hoia Baciu Forest Facts."Facts Legends. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2016. <http://factslegend.org/20-interesting-mysterious-hoia-baciu-forest-facts/2/>.

Swancer, Brent. "The Cursed Forest of Transylvania | Mysterious Universe."Mysterious Universe. N.p., 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 21 Jan. 2016. <http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2014/12/the-cursed-forest-of-transylvania-2/>)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Wonderful World of Trees!

I went to the garden nursery around Christmas to take pictures of the trees and animals. 














  One thing I like about Christmas is the excuse to bring a live tree into your house. This year, I also brought in live bugs. First I found a big brown beetle meandering across the couch. Then I found a lady bug nestled on the cat tree. It is a good thing I found the little creature before one of my sweet beasties did. Trees are like individual miniature habitats full of creatures. 
  When I was in college I lived near forests full of trees. There was a constant battle between the people who wanted to cut the trees for profit and the people who wanted to save the trees. Once, I had met a girl who had lived in a tree for a couple of months to try to save it. I never asked her what she did up there in the tree during her days. I imagine lots of reading. Maybe she drew pictures of the forest creatures she witnessed from her high up perch. 
   According to an article I read on the NPR website, there may be 3 trillion trees! Trillion is a number that is basically meaningless to me. I cannot even visualize what a trillion is. But I know it a lot! There may be 390 billion trees just in the Amazon basin. Imagine all those trees full of creatures and life! 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Gorilla, an Illustrated Poem

I have a bunch of poems that I have wrote over the years and I have decided to start using them for art inspiration. I made a poem I wrote called 'The Gorilla' into a comic. Here it is!












Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mue Mue The Great


   I have a very talented cat, take a look for yourself!




  I love my little guy, but he can be feisty. Mostly, I appreciate a feisty cat, but not when his sassy side leads him to terrorizing my other darling cat! Poor Wendel has to walk on eggshells because Mue Mue is a bully. Wendel and Mue Mue have very opposite personalities. Wendel is gentle, sweet and timid. Mue Mue is confident and sometimes ferocious. They do have one key personality trait in common which is their charisma.
  Because of my work (working with dogs and cats at an animal rescue) I have been wanting to learn more about animals. I read Temple Grandins book "Animals Make Us Human." This book inspired me to work with Mue Mue on training! 
   Grandin said that often a cat acts out in an aggressive way because he is bored and needs enrichment. Knowing Mue Mue, who is a very intelligent cat, this made absolute sense. I have tried different methods of enrichment for Mue Mue including lots of play time and getting him his very own cat tree (well, he has to share it with Wendel. I call it their palace.) But the idea I was most excited about was training. In Grandins book she also encouraged clicker training with cats. She said that training provides enrichment through learning. People often think that cats are untrainable, unlike dogs which are considered highly trainable. The common belief is either cats are too dumb or too stubborn. But the difference between cats and dogs in regards to training isn't that dogs are smarter or more willing, but that dogs and cats have been domesticated in very different ways. Cats were originally domesticated to catch mice. They were independent killing machines. But dogs were basically domesticated to be our friends. At this point in their evolution, dogs are highly tuned to humans. Dogs often know what we want before we even say it because they can read our expressions. Dogs, unlike cats have very expressive faces. It is easier to train dogs because their personalities are more human like and their motivations are social.
  The way I trained Mue Mue was through his desire for treats. Mue Mue is very food motivated. I still tell him he is a good boy when he shakes my hand, but I don't know how much my encouragement means to him. It is the the treat that he wants and it is the treat that convinces him to to shake my hand.
  Shortly after I read Grandins book, I bought a clicker for Mue Mue. But then I got distracted by the the details of life and I never ended up working on training with him. But then at work, our trainer taught us how to use clickers with the dogs. It was a lot of fun working with the dogs, and I was re-motivated to work with my Mue!
  Clicker training is all about positive reinforcement. With animals, I really believe positive reinforcement is the best way to go. This does not mean you cannot correct them when they do something wrong, but encouraging them when they do something right goes much further! Clickers are used to reinforce good behavior. If your animal does something good, you click the clicker and give him a treat immediately. Eventually, the click itself will be a reward.
  With Mue  Mue, I taught him to sit first. This was fairly easy, because he sits a lot on his own. When he sits, I click and give him a treat. If he didn't want to sit, I hold the treat up and slowly move it toward his back which often will cause him to sit on his own. Then of course I click and give him a treat.
   Teaching him to shake is more complicated. I would ask him to sit first. Then I would pick up his hand and say shake, click and give him a treat. At first he would protest when I picked up his little paw. He'd go "meowowow!" in a very grumpy tone. Eventually, he realized that he was getting treats when I picked up his hand and he seemed less perturbed. After a while I started offering my palm and asking him to shake. Soon enough, he was shaking on his own. It really didn't take long at all! When it became clear that he understood what I was asking, I was thrilled and oh so proud of my little rascal!
  He still on occasion picks on his little brother, but this has become less frequent since starting training and other enrichment activities.
  We are working on another trick that is a little bit harder, but once he masters it I will definitely be sharing it! Actually, I have probably annoyed everyone I know by forcing them all to look at this video of Mue Mue. 


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Go Meet a Goat


  I went to a Harvest festival this Fall and got to meet a group of adorable goats. There is something about goats! They are adorable, charming, and a bit bizarre. 


 What makes goats slightly strange are their eyes! They have rectangular pupils instead of circles. Animals that have rectangular eyes are sheep, toads, octopuses and of course, goats! Rectangular pupils are helpful for prey animals. The longer pupil helps with peripheral depth perception which makes it easier to survey the surroundings. Goats, which are prey animals, can more easily spot predators in the distance with their square pupiled eyes. (1)


Goats are often demeaned in popular culture due to their supposed propensity to eat tin cans and other inedible pieces of garbage. But the goats that chew on these strange objects are just displaying curiosity, which in my opinion is a very admirable trait. The goats don't have hands to use when trying to figure out an object, so instead they use their mouths. Resourceful little fellows if you ask me! (2)


I have been in mountain goat territory before, but I have never seen one in real life. I'd love to see a majestic mountain goat. I can just imagine it!....I'd be walking on the top of a mountain, surrounded by beautiful wildflowers when from behind a tree, a beautiful mountain goat appears a belts a happy hello. Then, following close behind the goat, a Sasquatch would emerge, holding bouquet of freshly picked wildflowers. Just kidding, I'm being cheeky! Although, I'd love to see a Sasquatch too. One thing amazing about mountain goats is they are known to be able to jump up to 12 whole feet! I never think of goats as jumpers, but apparently goats should not be underestimated. (3)


When I was in college, I met these two hippy kids who had pet baby goats. They adopted the goats from a farmers market. The goats lived in their backyard in a pen full of hay. I think what happened was that their neighbors complained to the landlords that they kept hearing bleating and baaing from the yard. The hippy kids had to give up their goats but it was for the best because the goats got to go live a happy life out in the country. 


Sources:

1. Cox, Ashley. "The Evolution Of The Rectangular Eye." Science 2.0. Science 2.0, 21 Oct. 2008. Web. 14 Jan. 2016. .


2. "Goat Facts - 10 Things You Didn't Know About Goats | From Scratch Magazine." From Scratch Magazine. Scratch Magazine, 30 June 2013. Web. 14 Jan. 2016. .


3. Bradford, By Alina. "Facts About Goats." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 21 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 Jan. 2016. .